It looks like the economic and political group whose interests the New York Times serves is getting scared that Hillary Clinton, its candidate for US presidency, might not make it without more lies by mainstream media.
As this singling out of them in a recent article by Gregg Easterbrook indicates — “Is American manufacturing in free fall, as Mr. Sanders and Mr. Trump assert?” — the people who pay Mr Easterbrrok’s salary and their friends see both Sanders and Trump as a threat to be defused by any means necessary (short of assassination, one hopes). Hence the continuing attempts to discredit them; and hence, too, the litany of lies Jim Naureckas details in the article linked below. We highlight his key findings here.
Take some of Easterbrook’s major points:
“Job growth has been strong for five years, with unemployment now below where it was for most of the 1990s, a period some extol as the ‘good old days.’”
The broadest measure of employment is labor force participation—the number of people working or actively looking for work compared with the working-age population—which has been on a downward trend since the “good old days” of the 1990s. Back then, it fluctuated between 66 and 67 percent; it’s currently 62.8 percent.
Labor Force Participation Rate (source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)
“The American economy is No. 1 by a huge margin, larger than Nos. 2 and 3 (China and Japan) combined.”
Source: Knoema Data Atlas, based on IMF World Economic Outlook
This is based on nominal Gross Domestic Product, which expresses national output in terms of trade value, which is subject to the manipulation of currency exchange rates. When you look at GDP in terms of Purchasing Power Parity, which looks at the actual value of goods and services and is generally considered a more accurate measure of standard of living, the US does not have the largest economy in the world—China does.
“Living standards, longevity and education levels continue to rise.”
As Easterbrook tries to explain away later on, median household income has fallen more than $4,000 since 1999; it shows little signs of returning to the peak before the housing bubble burst, which itself was below the peak reached before the dot.com bubble burst.
As for longevity, Easterbrook is no doubt aware of the disturbing finding that life expectancy among middle-aged white Americans is actually dropping, due to increases in deaths from suicide, cirrhosis of the liver and opiate overdose. Perhaps he attributes such deaths to insufficient optimism.
The percentage of Americans with bachelor’s degrees is continuing to rise, due to legitimately good news about higher rates of college degrees for women. American men, however, are graduating from college at about the same rate they did 40 years ago. High-school graduation rates for both men and women plateaued at about the same time.
As I noted, Easterbrook tries to dismiss the generation-long decline in household income, probably the most basic reason for the pessimistic mood that puzzles him so:
Yes, inflation-adjusted middle-class household income peaked in 1998 and has dropped slightly since. But during the same period, federal income taxes on the middle class went down, while benefits went up. Gary Burtless of the Brookings Institution has shown that when lower taxes and higher benefits are factored in, middle-class buying power has risen 36 percent in the current generation.
What is meant here by “higher benefits” is the mostly the fact that health insurance costs much more now than it did 20 years ago—an average family’s health insurance premium went from about $7,500 in 1996 to $16,000 in 2014 (both figures in 2014 dollars). Few people would point to rampant healthcare inflation as a reason for optimism.
Read the full article here.
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